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DOWNLOAD THE PRIVATE PRACTICE-BUILDING CHECKLIST
CALM THE OVERWHELM, HAVE A GAME PLAN, & GAIN CONFIDENCE!
So many people don’t take the leap into private practice because they don’t know where to start. This checklist and its accompanying resource list tell you exactly what you need to do to get going. We get into the specifics of why each item is important, provide suggestions for free & paid resources to make your practice run smoothly, and & in some reminders about why you are totally capable of having a successful private practice.
I’ve used a lot of different practice management solutions in the past. TherapyNotes is a huge time saver. I recommend getting a practice management system BEFORE you think you need one. You’ll need time to learn it (but don’t worry; it’s pretty intuitive.) It includes an online scheduling system, electronic health record with the ability to create templates, billing and remittance, and a credit card processor. It’s seriously all you’ll need for the management of your practice. It has also pretty interface, which matters to me.
Office Ally offers a number of services, but I’ve only used the free billing feature and it is awesome. I could literally bill each session in less than 30 seconds. There’s a video in my ebook showing how this works.
Email is usually only HIPAA compliant if you are paying for it. Some practice management systems like Therapy Appointment, have a secure email system. You can also check out Hushmail, which creates a HIPAA Compliant portal for you to email with clients. You can pay for a secure email through Gmail, but if your clients aren’t paying for a similar service, it’s not HIPAA complaint. That’s why your doctors use patient portals and why we should too. It’s only $9.99/month.
Vsee offers a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing service. It’s like Skype but more reliable and HIPAA-compliant. Please know the ins and outs of distance counseling (like for instance, you have to be licensed in the state the client is in while you are seeing each other) before venturing into that world.
Credit Card Processing
You can tell your initial clients that you only take cash or checks, but credit cards make their lives easier and don’t add too much to your bottom line. If you have a compatible smart phone or tablet, Square is a great service. This Square link will give you free processing on your first $1,000 in your first 180 days. Square is 2.75% per swipe or 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction for cards keyed in.
If you’re using a practice management system, building payment into your website, or want to leave your smart phone out of it, Stripe is integratable and you can click two buttons to process cards. 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
UPrinting has done my cards for me for years. Their customer service is stellar. I happily pay a few extra bucks for 16 pt cardstock.
You can build your own website! I have built websites on Squarespace and Wix, both are all drag and drop style websites.I prefer Squarespace because I like the cleaner look of the templates better and they have better SEO. Take the time to watch the tutorials on whatever site you choose to keep yourself from wanting to throw your computer out the window.
Hire It Out
If you would rather pay someone to build your website or set up the hard stuff for you to tweak so you don’t lose your mind/break your computer/hate your life, I can’t recommend Nikki Bonsol enough. You can check out her design services here. She’s also a pro at helping you “Write Brave” so potential clients connect with you from the moment they read your writing.
Open Path Psychotherapy Collective
If you are considering accepting a sliding scale, check out Open Path Psychotherapy Collective, a non-profit whose mission is to connect clients in need to therapists who can help at a reduced rate. I take sliding scale clients exclusively through this service and think they’re an awesomely ethical company who really wants the best for clients.
PHOTOS & GRAPHICS
If you’ve ever tried to get a Facebook cover photo to fit correctly or struggled to get text just right over a photo you know how frustrating formatting can be. Enter Canva, your easy answer to making things look good.
Despite the slightly pervy name, Photofeeler is a pretty cool service. You can upload a picture and strangers will rate it according to traits such as Likability and Confidence. In order to get your picture ranked, you have to rank others’ photos. It’s a nice give and take system.
Infographics with easel.ly
Infographics are awesome. easel.ly makes them easy.
American Professional Malpractice Insurance
I like American Professional because they cover corporations, various levels of various licensures and their rates are pretty low. You’ll want at least 1,000,000/3,000,000 coverage no matter what company you go with.
Muse: Brain Sensing Headband
Oh, how I love Muse. It’s like a biofeedback machine. Here’s a quick breakdown: you put on the headband, which goes across your forehead and behind your ears. You use the free app on your phone which connects via bluetooth. It tests your brain using simple lists (like think of all the types of fruits you can until they say stop). Then you launch into however long a meditation you want choosing a beach audio scene or a forrest audio scene. Here’s the cool part— when you start thinking it starts storming. When you’re focused on the meditation, the rain calms and you may even hear birds. Then, for you other data geeks out there, after the meditation is over it gives you your stats including what percentage of the time your brain was calm, active or neutral. How many birds you got and some seemingly random “awards” like being both perfectly calm and at the maximum of thinking in the same meditation session. I have never been so consistent with meditation. Partly because the data is so interesting and patly because it tracks your “streaks” and I don’t want to start all over!
If you keep alcohol swabs in your office you can use this for your clients, too. They can download their own free Muse app and you can use it much like a biofeedback machine. Boom- it’s a business expense.
Some of us needed a closet upgrade 10 years ago. Maybe we were in grad school then or in an agency or some other version of just plain broke. And then the clothes we bought at Target fell apart at the seams or started getting pilly. And then we were super busy with work and/or family and we now dress like the Mom Jeans skit from SNL. Maybe not that bad, but you get it.
If you’re charging people $100+ per session for therapy, you should probably upgrade your wardrobe. You don’t have to spend a grand or anything, but a few high quality versatile pieces should do the trick to keep you from looking like a 1990’s palm reader (I see a lot of this look at social work conferences). I love Stitch Fix because they deliver it to my door where I can try it on with what I own and ship it back from my front porch.
Here’s a hack to do it cheaply: if you see clients weekly have one outfit that you wear at work per week. Leave it at work and wear more casual clothes for your commute and at home. Your nice work outfit won’t get stained or sweat on and could probably last all 4-5 days you work. When you have more money, you can buy more outfits. It may not be the classiest solution, but it works.
UPWORK FOR VIRTUAL ASSISTANCE
I’ve realized that there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to learn everything I would need to know to do everything by myself. I’ve hired virtual assistants (VA’s) for tech-based jobs that were making my head spin. You can hire VA’s for a wide array of tasks from finding and buying your mom a birthday present to creating a gorgeous logo to making internet marketing systems play nicely. Know when you’re out of your depth and get help. Vet the people who apply for the job well and be very clear with the VA about what you want.